Digital transparency: Automation and advanced data analytics

We’re testing new approaches to serve you better 

As more people apply for IRCC programs, we’re introducing technologies to help us process applications more efficiently. We use technology to support, assist and inform IRCC decision makers, not to replace them. Our employees remain central to IRCC’s decision-making processes. We’re automating certain tasks and activities, such as using systems to sort applications, so our employees and decision makers can spend more time on complex applications and issues, and on making final decisions.

Using advanced data analytics to sort and organize some applications

IRCC is using advanced data analytics to sort and help process temporary resident visa applications from some countries where there is a high volume of applications. We have also started a pilot using this technology to help process spousal and common-law partner sponsorship applications that are submitted in Canada. Advanced data analytics systems recognize patterns to help accelerate our work and better inform decision makers.

Advanced data analytics allows officers to identify routine applications for streamlined processing. For example, those from people whose information is already on file as they have dealt with IRCC before. This process allows us to better manage our work and ultimately helps some clients to receive their decision sooner.

When an application is deemed routine for streamlined processing, advance data analytics are used to determine only that an applicant is eligible, before the file is sent to an officer to screen for admissibility, which includes security and criminality. Officers always make the final decision on applications.

The systems never refuse or recommend refusing applications. When applications are refused, an officer made the decision.

IRCC officers

The systems are reviewed routinely to make sure they’re working as intended and the results are consistent with applications that receive a full human review. We’re carefully checking how advanced data analytics performs before we expand its use in other areas.

Developing the technology responsibly

Before we explore any technology to support one of our services, we assess the needs specific to that service, including the benefits for (and impact on) clients.

A team of experts, including decision makers, will continue to be involved throughout the process of developing and using future advanced data analytics systems at IRCC, including careful review for bias and discriminatory impacts.

Changes to existing systems only happen with human oversight, testing and approval.

IRCC is working to be a leader in the responsible use of data-driven technologies. We have developed our approach to align with the Directive on Automated Decision-Making.

Protecting your personal information

We used information collected from the applications of past clients to design the advanced data analytics systems now in use. Other IRCC systems will be designed in the same way.

If you’re applying now, or have applied to an IRCC program in the past, the information in your application, and other information collected in support of your application, may be used by IRCC to design an advanced data analytics system within IRCC. The personal information that IRCC collects is reflected in InfoSource.

IRCC may use these analytics systems to support processing applications and decision-making in accordance with the Privacy Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Our advanced data analytics systems only use the personal information that is relevant and needed for the application process, including information provided by our law enforcement partners in accordance with formal information-sharing agreements. For example, our systems do not use information from social media channels.

IRCC conducts privacy impact assessments when developing advanced data analytics systems.

Privacy will remain a central priority as we expand the use of advanced data analytics. IRCC continues to take its privacy obligations regarding personal information seriously and continues to follow and respect Canada’s Privacy Act and related directives and policies.

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